Saturday, June 09, 2007

these are the same people who bring you SB117

Wait a minute! Where'd my phone card time go? - -- Let's start putting two and two together for a change, around here. Here's a story of how AT&T cheats customers on their calling-card phone minutes, perfectly legally, using "the fine print." This is one of the ways they help transfer wealth out of our hands and into theirs, where they can then use it in a lobbying and advertising effort to get SB117 passed, ostensibly in the interests of increased competition which would benefit us, the consumers.

Basically, all we should know about AT&T is that they're not trustworthy, and on that basis, out of hand, we should have our legislators bounce SB117 right out of the legislative process. Make no mistake, these two issues are related; they speak to the character of a corporation that has a history of exploitation of the public and quibbling over legalisms.

Get ready to defend yourselves, if your legislators down in Columbus don't. Here's part of the PD article; the bold emphasis is mine:

AT&T sells a card good for 500 minutes of long-distance calling. But if you use it to call from Mayfield Heights to Cincinnati, your minutes will be used up three times faster than you'd expect.

The reason's in the very fine print on the back of the card.

"Minute value applies to state-to-state calls only. . . . For calls that begin and end in the same state, minutes are deducted at these rates . . ." What follows is a long list that says in-state calls are charged at the regular 60-second minute in a handful of places, including the U.S. Virgin Islands, but it's 3-for-1 in most states, including Ohio; 5-for-1 in many others, including Pennsylvania; and a blazing 8-for-1 in Missouri, New Mexico and North and South Dakota.

This time manipulation is beyond government regulation. State agencies have no jurisdiction over long-distance carriers. And the Federal Communications Commission doesn't regulate long-distance rates. AT&T says it's the FCC's fault. In June 2006, an agency ruling required AT&T to pay state access fees for in-state calls. It decided to pass those fees along by speeding up the clock.

A spokesman for the Ohio Consumers' Counsel said AT&T is the only company it knows is compressing time. But there are other kinds of hidden fees, and the Counsel's office offers fact sheets; call 1-877-742-5622 or check online at

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